Growing Beets A Bounty Of Root Crops For Fall

January 13, 2023 0 Comments

Beets have had a bad reputation over the years as weird red stuff on salad bars. But this is not mandatory, and growing beets at home is easy and fun!

Available in a variety of colors, including a natural striped version, beets are full of vitamins. Filled with healthy potassium, manganese, folic acid and vitamin B2, they are low in calories. And they are delicious.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about beet stains things, and they’re true. Beetroot has long been used as a form of tincture. But not all beets have the classic red-purple color, and many are free of stains!

Did I mention they are delicious? Whether cooked as a vegetable side dish or sliced on salads, beets can be an easy addition to any number of meals.

Curious enough to grow yourself? You should be! Let’s examine everything there is to know about the humble beetroot. You’ll be just as excited as I am by the time we’re done!

All About Beets

vulgaris is the botanical name for beetroot, but this includes more than one root vegetable.

Interestingly, there are many different forms of beets. Although I focus on beetroot and garden beet, there are whole families of different cultivars that are similar to each other, but have slightly different growing habits.

Some varieties of beets are used for animal feed. Others are used in the production of sugar instead of sugar cane. Some forms are grown for their green leaves and stems as food. Beetroot microgreens are delicious. And, of course, the carrots can also be very tasty.

In total, beets are economically the most important crop of the order Caryophyllales. This order includes cacti, carnations, ice plants, amaryllis, many carnivorous plants and all forms of beet plants.

Because this family is so broad, I am staying with the Conditiva cultivar group for today’s purpose. But I am sure that in the future I will visit chard, mangelwurzels and sugar beets again!

Recommended Beet Varieties

Beets are available in three basic colors: golden, white or red.

In general, most beet roots are red to purple-red in color. Rich in betanine, a natural compound, they are used for food coloring and colorings and for eating.

Most varieties of beetroot have a little red or purple that extends along the stem. Some even have purple veins in the leaves.

Golden and white beets do not” bleed”, since the level of natural betanine is much lower. You don’t have to worry about your cutting board turning pink or staining your clothes.

Golden beets often have yellowish stems that match the inside of the root. White beets tend to be pale or albino, with lighter leaves and stems.


If you live in a frost-free zone, you can plant crops every 3 weeks in a row throughout the winter. Start your beets indoors and transplant them outside for good germination.

Plant beets in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Avoid very muddy conditions. You can also start your seeds indoors and transplant them after.

Germination occurs only when the soil temperature is 50 degrees or higher. If you grow beets all winter, keep this in mind!

Where To Plant Beets

Ideally, you want to plant beets in full sun. They can also grow in partial shade, but full sun promotes healthy roots and greens.

If you are planting in containers, choose containers that are at least 12 centimeters deep. This leaves room for good root development and for drainage. We supply and recommend growing bags with Root bags and air pots in our store that meet these requirements.

I like to plant beets in raised gardens, but they can be grown directly in the ground. Work your soil with compost if it is of the clay type. Well-drained loamy or sandy soils work well.

When planting beets from seed, sow seeds 1″ deep and 3-4 ” apart if you don’t want to thin them out. If you don’t mind diluting some in the form of young beets to eat after, you can sow them closer together.

Slender plants are about 3-4″ apart when they have grown to 2 ” tall, or when they have developed their second pair of true leaves.

Mulching with mowed grass, straw, or mulch from shredded leaves will help keep your soil moist. If the weather cools down in autumn, it will also provide the necessary warmth for the roots.

Sun & Temperature

For the best root development when growing beets, plant in full sun. Your beets can also grow in partial shade, but cannot develop such a large root this way.

Beets prefer cooler temperatures and grow best at daytime temperatures of 60-70 degrees. Night minima should be 50-60 degrees. This makes them perfect candidates for spring or autumn cultivation.

You will find that beets can tolerate colder conditions. Many varieties can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees.

When the temperature drops in cold areas, provide a thick layer of mulch around the roots. Floating row covers or cold frames can provide additional heat in freezing conditions.

Beets love a lot of water, because they use it to make healthy greens and sweet carrots. But they do not like soaked or muddy conditions, as they lead to the spread of the ailment.

It is better to choose a constant and even humidity. About an inch of water a week works well. Combine this with mulching to keep the soil moist and prevent evaporation.

Water more as the temperature rises, but be careful. Moisture is not your friend when growing beets! Avoid wetting the greens or splashing the Earth particles on them. Wet leaves are more susceptible to ailment.


Loamy, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils are best for growing beets. Avoid hard or clay soils as this will slow down the development of the roots.

If you have hard clay soil, prepare the soil by breaking it up. Choose all the rocks you find, as they can be obstacles to the development of roots. Stir in the compost to loosen the soil. A little perlite to keep it well drained and airy is also good.

A more sandy soil can work perfectly for the development of beets, as long as it is nutritious. Compost is also useful here, as it will preserve the nutrition of the soil.

Pruning Beets

You don’t need to prune your beets, but you can definitely do it if you want. In fact, it will provide you with a regular source of fresh vegetables!

When harvesting greens, select only the outer leaves as far as possible. Never remove more than 1/3rd of the greens from the plant at a time. Let them grow back before you harvest from this plant again.

Harvesting Beets

The first harvest is actually done when you thin out your beet plants. Don’t throw away those green babies! Use them on salads instead. To avoid damage to other nearby beet roots, cut the beet leaves at ground level.

If you want baby beets or young green beets, leave some of your beets in place until the roots reach about 1″ in diameter. You can harvest the entire plant at this point, leaving about 1″ of stem on the beet root.

Growing Problems

Apart from pests or ailments, the most common beet problem is the Black Heart. Sometimes called beetroot black spot, it is caused by a boron deficiency in the soil. Black and Woody spots form on and inside the root.

These spots should be cut out before eating, as they are Woody and unsavory. You can add small amounts of borax to your soil to improve the drilling level before planting to prevent this. Once planted, use an algae extract or add compost to try to improve the boron content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *